Mae C. Jemison

Celebrate Black History

Mae C. JemisonAstronaut Mae Jemison (born October 17, 1956) became the first African-American woman to enter space when she served on the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavor in September 1992. Jemison’s life, however, is also full of terrestrial accomplishments. A high school graduate at the age of 16, she attended Stanford University on a scholarship, graduating with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering and having fulfilled the requirements for an A.B. in African and Afro-American Studies. After graduating from medical school (Cornell University, 1981), Jemison joined the Peace Corps, serving as its area medical officer from 1983 to 1985 in the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. After serving in NASA from 1987 to 1993, Jemison founded The Jemison Group, Inc., which developed ALAFIYA, a satellite-based telecommunications systems intended to improve health care delivery in developing nations. She also was a professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College, where she directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. 

When Jemison was chosen on June 4, 1987, she became the first African American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program. After more than a year of training, she became an astronaut with the title of science mission specialist, a job which would make her responsible for conducting crew related scientific experiments on the space shuttle. On September 12, 1992, Jemison finally flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavour on mission STS47. During her eight days in space, she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. 

In recognition of her accomplishments, Jemison received several honorary doctorates, the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, the Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992, and a Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College in 1993, and was named Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year in 1990. Also in 1992, an alternative public school in Detroit, Michigan – the Mae C. Jemison Academy – was named after her. Jemison is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992. She is also an advisory committee member of the American Express Geography Competition and an honorary board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition.

After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth. She also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop, and market advanced technologies. 

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This Day In Black History (Feb. 10): 

1. OPERA STAR IS BORN (1927) – Opera singer Mary Leontyne Price born in Laurel, Mississippi. She was best known for her Verdi roles, above all the title role of Aida. An African American born in the segregated South, she rose to international fame in the 1950s and 60s, and became the first black “superstar” at the once-segregated Metropolitan Opera.

2. 1ST BLACK GOVERNOR OF FEDERAL RESERVE (1966) – Andrew Brimmer is appointed by President Johnson to become the first African-American governor of the Federal Reserve Board.

3. 1ST BLACK POLITICAL PARTY CHAIRMAN (1989) – Ron Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee becoming the first African American to lead a major American political party.

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Submitted by:

Dwayne B. Neal – Team N.A.M.E.S.
“Knowledge is power, but ACTION is King!”

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